Welcome back to another week of the #AskLAFC mailbag. If you couldn't tell by the title, people predominantly had one thing on their mind this week.
After LAFC clinched the first playoff berth in Club history with a 3-0 over Colorado, you can't blame people for having playoffs on the brain. And with three matches left to play in the regular season, there's still a lot on the line in terms of playoff positioning. So even though LAFC's playoff future is definite, there are still so many questions. So let's get right into your questions:
#AskLAFC Can we expect to see Bob Bradley utilize the bench more or call back players on loan for the final three matches of the regular season? - @Aracelv1
With the playoffs clinched, a few people have been wondering about resting players. But when you look at LAFC's remaining schedule, the matches come in pretty regular intervals. Gone are the times of three matches in a week, which is when we saw Bob Bradley really have to juggle his players minutes.
In fact, I've had more than a few players this week comment on how much they enjoy the rhythm they are in now. They have one match a week and a pretty regular training schedule. Players are able to get the treatment and recovery they need after the matches, and more importantly for some, they can stick to a routine. With that in mind, I'd be surprised if we saw wholesale changes from match to match for any reason other than tactical decisions.
How is @latif_blessing now? - @Tahirulba
Latif Blessing missed LAFC's last two matches with a hip flexor strain in his left leg. While the team was away this weekend, he was working hard with the training staff to get back on the pitch. The good news is that this week, Blessing was back in full training. It looks like he will be available for selection against Houston on Friday.
#AskLAFC Is winning the Western Conference, or clinching a first round bye a priority? Or can we expect starters to rest in the last three matches of the regular season? - @lafcweekly
In regards to starters and rest before the playoffs, scroll up to see what the players told me about rest and what I think Bob Bradley will do.
As for winning the Western Conference or clinching a first-round bye? The answer is unequivocal YES to both. We spoke with a quite a few players this week after LAFC clinched in Colorado and the common theme was "we're not done." So in the dressing room, the sights are set on guaranteeing a playoff match at Banc of California Stadium, getting a first-round bye, and going for the top spot in the conference. But shortly after players told us that, they said getting maximum points in these last two matches at home were a must.
How does that big air-filled treadmill work, which we saw in the Mark Anthony Kaye video? Is it compressed air for support? - @FutBobby
The technology for the anti-gravity treadmill Mark-Anthony Kaye has been working on goes way over my head, so I asked the performance staff about it.
Essentially, air pressure is used to "unweight" the runner. When you're on the treadmill, there isn't the same gravitational force. For someone like Kaye, the ability to reduce the amount of weight his ankle is bearing during his rehab allows him to exercise without causing additional damage. It gives him the chance to begin walking and running faster than he would if he was on a traditional treadmill.
How do you guys feel about going to the playoffs in your first season? #AskLAFC - aronquillo214
There's definitely excitement in and around the team this week after clinching. But it's also raised the focus a few degrees this week as well. Bob Bradley mentioned to us that he's seen his team up the intensity and mentality this week in training: "There's a real strong focus in the group at this time. I could tell before the Colorado match just how alert and sharp everybody was. The conversations amongst players before the game, the reminders to each other, the way on the field they helped each other and pointed out certain things, some encouraging and some a little bit hard, and at halftime, everybody was really tuned in. For me, the kind of leadership you need at the end of the year, where everybody's involved, really started to come through against Colorado."
When we gonna get some top shelf nachos at the banc? #AskLAFC - @SkoolOfDefense
Ok, that's it for me. Thank you for all your questions. Keep them coming and see you all next week.